HILLSBORO – The Eugene Emeralds (49-37) continue their search for that elusive fiftieth win as the Hillsboro Hops (41-44) handed Eugene their third straight defeat on Wednesday, downing the Ems by a final score of 10-6 at Ron Tonkin Field.
It was déjà vu at Ron Tonkin Field as for the second straight day the scoring started via a two-run homer from an Emeralds slugger.
Franklin Labour got the scoring started with a two-run blast on Tuesday, and Armani Smith followed his lead by doing the same on Wednesday, launching the first pitch he saw for his sixth homer of the season, a rocket of a blast that exited his bat at 111 MPH and gave the Emeralds an early 2-0 lead in the first.
Again, just like Tuesday, Hillsboro got their first run via a solo homer from Eduardo Diaz who homered for the second consecutive day to put the Hops on the board and cut Eugene’s lead to 2-1 in the third.
Hillsboro took the lead an inning later thanks to a pair of long balls, the first a solo shot from Blaze Alexander while the second came from an unlikely candidate: Cam Coursey. Batting at the bottom of the order, Coursey launched his first homer of the season to right field, a two-run blast that put the Hops in front for the first time, 4-2. Both Alexander’s and Coursey’s homers each came with two outs.
In the fifth, a Marco Luciano triple (that was aided by an awkward misplay by Hops left fielder Eduardo Diaz) scored Heath Quinn to pull the Ems back within one, 4-3, but the Hops responded and then some in the bottom half.
With runners on the corners and no outs, Andy Yerzy chopped a ball to first baseman Logan Wyatt for what appeared would result in an out in some form or fashion, but after hesitating to make sure the runner at third wasn’t headed for home, Wyatt half-heartedly threw to second aiming to get the force on the runner from first, but not only was Wyatt’s throw late to second but it also allowed the runner from third to score and make it 5-3, Hillsboro.
Two batters later, after a Travis Perry wild pitch advanced both runners up ninety feet and later a four-pitch walk by Spencer Brickhouse loaded the bases, AJ Vukovich grounded into a 5-3 double play that scored another run from third to put the Hops up by three, 6-3, heading to the sixth.
In that sixth inning, the Emeralds got a run back on an absolute no-doubter off the bat of Sean Roby who like Armani Smith roasted the first pitch he saw and sent it off the scoreboard in left with an exit velo of 113 MPH to put the Ems back within two, 6-4.
In the seventh, Marco Luciano tallied his second RBI of the day on a sac fly to score Carter Aldrete who had earlier led off the inning with a ground-rule double, but the Emeralds could get no closer than the 6-5 margin.
Hillsboro added two more runs in the bottom of the seventh thanks back-to-back RBI singles by Spencer Brickhouse and AJ Vukovich that together made it an 8-5 lead for Hillsboro, and though the Emeralds got a run back in the eighth on a Heath Quinn RBI single, Hillsboro added two more runs for good measure in the bottom half of the frame to help put away a 10-6 victory, their sixth consecutive win pulling them within three games of the ever-elusive .500 mark.
The Eugene Emeralds and Hillsboro Hops continue their six-game series on Thursday at Ron Tonkin Field. First pitch on Thursday is scheduled for 7:05pm PST.
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